I did a research project on raw foodist and went raw for about a week. I’d be happy to share my experiences with you. (I bet this thread ends up getting moved to another area.) I was more interested in the raw food lifestyle then I was with the nutritional information.
There are a lot of different kinds of raw foodist. Generally speaking most of them believe that any food item cooked above 115 degrees kills the enzymes necessary to promoting good health. Most of them avoided processed foods like the plague but it was ok to eat dried fruits and veggies. The vast majority of the ones I came into contact with were vegans though a few of them ate raw meat on occasion.
The raw food community is really big on so called “super foods”. When I was studying them one of the popular super foods were goji berries (wolf berries) which could be eaten dried or fresh. Other super foods include almost anything in smoothie form and for a few of them that meant raw meat smoothies. Durians seemed to be making its way into the community and there was a lot of interest in that as a superfood.
In general I found that as a community they had a profound distrust of the government and little respect for the opinion of the medical establishment. For example the majority of the ones I ran into believed it was necessary to undergo colonic irrigation on a regular basis in order to remove mucoid plaque from their intestines. I could find no medical basis for the belief in mucoid plaque though this seems to be a widespread belief among the community. They also advocate fasting every once in a while and some of them believed that it was possible to eventually be able to forgo food altogether and receive sustenance directly from the sun.
Among a significant minority I found a seemingly magical relationship between food and people. There was a belief that a raw food diet could cure cancer, AIDS, mercury poisoning, etc. Among the vegan portion of the population there was a belief in sympathetic magic in that when eating the flesh an animal you are literally consuming the pain, hatred, and the very soul of the animal.
If you’re on a raw food diet then grains are pretty much verboten. There are a wide variety of raw food “cook” books available for sale and recipes on the web. At one raw food pot luck someone made “ice cream” using mashed frozen bananas and some other ingredients I can’t think of off the top of my head.
David Wolfe is probably the best known raw food “guru.” There are others and many of them make outrageous claims. There are other raw foodist including Christians who adopt the Hallelujah Diet which they believe was what men ate before the flood of Noah.
A lot of the testimonials I heard was that people who switched to a raw food diet had more energy and more than a few of them claimed they shed dozens of pounds and feel much healthier. I’m not from Missouri but I’m a show me kind of guy and I haven’t seen any reliable data to back up the majority of their claims.